April 2 1999
Glayde Whitney's Racist Toxic Waste is
By: Roosevelt Wilson
My childhood buddies and I paid a dime apiece
almost every Friday night to get scared half to death.
That was the price of a ticket to watch "The
Mummy," "Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man"
and a weekly diet of other horror movies.
Four or five of us always walked home from the
movie, and, unfortunately for me, I lived the farthest, so I had
to walk the last block or so home alone.
Was I afraid? Man, the hair on my nape seemed
to be a hand about to grab me by the collar. I could hear the
dragging feet of The Mummy gaining on me.
It was a weekly ritual and my reaction was always
the same: Wide-eyed and with my heart pounding almost audibly,
and while constantly looking over my shoulder, I kept telling
myself: "I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid."
Those memories returned last week as I read of
the white-supremacist toxic waste spewed by Florida State University
professor Glayde Whitney. Not only does he add to the toxic waste
site of ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke's autobiography, but Whitney
also dumps the racist bile on his students in a mandatory psychology
In his foreword to Duke's autobiography, in which
Duke supposedly defines and validates white supremacy by exposing
its genetic roots, Whitney says Duke's work is "a painstakingly
documented, academically excellent work of socio-biological-political
history that has the potential to raise tremendous controversy
and change the very course of history."
Whitney and Duke aren't the first white men to
claim white supremacy.
Throughout history that same belief has been expressed
in many ways, includingAmerican law that said a black person had
a value three-fifths that of a white one.
History books and papers are replete with statements
declaring the white man superior and the black man inferior.
Reflecting on my childhood days as I tried to
make myself believe what I knew was a lie by constantly repeating,
"I am not afraid," I wonder why some white men constantly
feel the need to keep repeating to themselves: "White people
are intellectually superior to blacks."
Since whites made this a nation of mixed-race
people by raping slaves and Native American women, how can Whitney,
Duke and other white supremacists be sure that they themselves
aren't part black? How can they be sure some of the women they
married -- and consequently their children -- are not "infected"
with black genes?
Whitney has every right to express his beliefs,
but more poignant to me is a good-news, bad-news case. The good
news is his courage to be honest. I respect him for that, despite
disagreeing vehemently with his beliefs.
The bad news is that we have many more silent
Whitneys among us, more than we realize. They look us in the eye
with a smile while thinking supremacist thoughts. Some make everyday
decisions, including passing laws, designed to preserve, protect
and/or recapture white privilege.
And let's not forget the most immediate casualties
of Whitney's academic freedom: students who are devastated by
his teaching but cannot graduate without taking his class.
Roosevelt Wilson is an associate journalism professor
at Florida A&M University and publisher of Capital Outlook
, a weekly newspaper. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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